Last time I wrote, I was about to take a much needed mini-vacation to Traverse City to check out the restaurants and wineries, and enjoy some perfect summer weather. I was horrified to find that I could not use my cell phone or have any access to Internet while I was away. Unplugged but happy to have a chance to relax, I reminded myself that I was on vacation, after all. Time to relax and enjoy myself!
Our trip began with a short drive to The Village at Grand Traverse Commons,, a newly redeveloped retail and dining district that used to be the Northern Michigan Asylum. The Village's charming Victorian architecture and wooded setting is a beautiful contrast to the busier streets of downtown Traverse City.
We met a couple friends and their adorable baby for a leisurely drink at a winery which was in a building which was noticeably different than the Victorian styled retail shops. On the patio at Left Foot Charley, we sat and enjoyed a couple glasses of wine and some incredible cider, before enjoying an incredible meal at Trattoria Stella.
The next day was spent touring wineries on the Old Mission Peninsula with our friends. After a short rest at our hotel, we headed out to Bel Aire to visit the
infamous Shorts Brewery and then had dinner at Lulu's Bistro.
The Traverse City area is known for its unique wineries, and there are several in the Leelanau area. In another marathon day of tasting and touring, we headed to a few more wineries like Black Star Farms, Mawby, and Bel Lago. At Bel Lago, we had the really fun opportunity to tour the facility with founder and winemaker, Charlie Edson. Charley was kind enough to take us behind the scenes and give us what he called, "the nickel tour" of his operation, which was definitely a highlight.
On our last morning there, feeling that we had only scratched the surface at The Village, we headed back to do some shopping the next day. We briefly stopped in at Left Foot Charley again to buy a couple bottles of wine, and while we were there, we had the good fortune to run into Brian Ulbrich, the owner. Brian offered to take us on a tour, which led to a very exciting discovery.
While we were walking through the bottling area, I looked down and noticed a roll of really hip wine labels. I asked him if he would mind telling me who does his graphic design work, as I was still looking for someone to design my stand-up pouch for Three Little Birds Granola. "My sister", he said. I gushed about how much I loved the design and he went on to tell me that his sister "tinkers" with design and she's done a few labels for them. He took my card and promised to have his sister contact me in a few days.
Happily, when I returned home, I had an email from Emily, and we quickly ironed out the details. Emily was quick to tell me about her background and how she "doesn't have a degree in graphic design". I appreciated her honesty, but a degree doesn't always translate into a happy customer. I don't care about a degree, I care about design!
Emily and I have started the process of designing the pouch for the retail debut of Three Little Birds and I couldn't be happier with the person I found to tell the story of Three Little Birds through her designs. At the outset, as I was starting Three Little Birds, it was important to me to keep things as "local" as possible. The company who will print the pouches recommended that I use their preferred artist, but she lives in Arizona. Being able to use a Michigan designer
whose work I instantly loved, is really exciting.
Our tour of all things Traverse was one of the best things I've done for myself in a long, long time. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but everything about our trip exceeded our expectations. I was most impressed with the hospitality of every person whose business we visited, and how progressive the food and wine scene was and all it had to offer. If you have an opportunity to visit, here are the places you do NOT want to miss:
Stacy Sloan; Chef & Founder of Three Little Birds